October 2007

Recalled Pot Pie product:
* Banquet
* Albertson’s (sold at Albertson’s)
* Food Lion (sold at Food Lion)
* Great Value (sold at Wal-Mart)
* Hill Country Fare (sold at HEB)
* Kirkwood (sold at Aldi)
* Kroger (sold at Kroger)
* Meijer (sold at Meijer)
* Western Family (now discontinued; previously sold at a

The numbers keep rising from the CDC. Between January 1, 2007 and October 29, 2007, at least 272 isolates of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- with an indistinguishable genetic fingerprint have been collected from ill persons in 35 states. Ill persons whose Salmonella strain has this genetic fingerprint have been reported from Arizona (1 person), Arkansas (4),

In one of the boldest, yet boneheaded, moves I have ever seen in 15 years of litigating E. coli O157:H7 cases, after we sued it, Nebraska Beef filed a third party complaint against the Salem Lutheran Church of Longville, Minnesota claiming, among other things:

That, upon information and belief, an environmental assessment of the church kitchen and food preparation procedures by the Minnesota Department of Health indicated that there was a high potential of cross-contamination between the ground beef [filled with pathogenic cow shit] and other foods during food preparation.

That, upon information and belief, the damages sustained by the Plaintiff[s], if any, [one died of E. coli-related complications, and one suffered acute kidney failure] are the direct and proximate result of the negligence and/or other fault for tortuous conduct of Third-Party Defendant Salem Lutheran Church.

We have the honor of representing several of the folks and families who were sickened and died in this needless outbreak caused by Nebraska Beef’s E. coli contaminated beef. In late July and early August 2006, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) received three E. coli O157:H7 stool isolates from residents of, and visitors to, Longville, Minnesota. Pulsed-field gel electrophoreses (PFGE) patterns for all three were indistinguishable, and the pattern had never been seen before in Minnesota. At the same time, MDH learned of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses among members of the Salem Lutheran Church in Longville. The church had served meals on July 10 and 19, and multiple congregation members subsequently fell ill with cramps and bloody diarrhea.

The MDH opened an epidemiological and environmental health investigation of the three confirmed E. coli O157:H7 illnesses and the church outbreak. MDH obtained the member directory from the church and interviewed parishioners to obtain information concerning their attendance at church events along with a general food and activity history. In addition, an MDH sanitarian visited the Salem Lutheran Church to conduct an environmental assessment of the kitchen where the food for the July 19 meal had been prepared. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) contacted local grocery stores and restaurants to obtain information on the type and source of beef products involved.

MDA and MDH learned that ground beef used to make meatballs for the church meal, as well as the ground beef purchased by numerous area restaurants, where others were sickened, was purchased at Tabaka’s Supervalu. On July 17, members of the church had purchased 40 pounds of ground beef from the Supervalu. MDA conducted an on-site inspection at the store on August 7, 2006.

MDA conducted a traceback of the ground beef purchased at the Supervalu and used in the July 19 meal. The store had received approximately 1,900 pounds of chuck rolls from distributor, Interstate Meat on July 10. The majority of the chuck rolls were ground into ground beef at the Supervalu. The Supervalu sold ground beef from the July 10 shipment to three Longville restaurants in the same time period as the sale to church members.

The MDA traceback of the chuck rolls from Interstate Meat revealed that the source of the chuck rolls delivered to the Supervalu was the Nebraska Beef processing plant. In addition to this, the USDA reported that a sample of beef trimmings collected on June 14, 2006 at Nebraska Beef cultured positive for E. coli O157:H7, and that the isolate was indistinguishable by PFGE analysis to the outbreak strain.

Ultimately, MDH concluded that:

• “There was an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections among members of the Longville, Minnesota community.
• Ground beef from Tabaka’s Supervalu was the “source of E. coli O157:H7 for this outbreak.”
• “The isolation of the rare outbreak PFGE subtype of E. coli O157:H7 from a sample of beef trimmings from a USDA-inspected plant in the weeks prior to the outbreak suggests that the chuck rolls that were used to produce the ground beef at the store were likely already contaminated when received by the store.”
• “…records that were available from the Tabaka’s Supervalu and [Interstate Meat] suggested that the ultimate source of the implicated chuck rolls was [Nebraska Beef].

Nebraska Beef sues a church for serving its E. coli contaminated meat (that was also served in restaurants that people were sickened in too) – shame on you Nebraska Beef.

Full disclosure – I was an acolyte in a Lutheran Church growing up.  Not only is there no legal reason for Nebraska Beef to sue the church in this instance – my mom (age 80) and dad (age 78) would have killed me if I had.

From the Wall Street Journal –  Law Blog

From the Minneapolis Start Tribune

Meat plant sues Longville church over E. coli outbreak

State health officials, meanwhile, took genetic samples of the E. coli found in Minnesota victims and sent those to the CDC as well, leading to a match with the Nebraska plant, according to Marler.

"The reality is they cannot hide from the genetic fingerprint that was found at their plant," said Marler. He said he plans to subpoena the USDA to release the genetic fingerprint tying Nebraska Beef to the Longville outbreak.

State epidemiologist Kirk Smith said he also believes that Nebraska Beef was the source, wondering why they would file a lawsuit blaming the church if they weren’t.

"If they’re not involved in this, why do they care?" he asked.

Case of Volunteer Church Cooks & Alleged Contaminated Meat – Can Blow Up into Landmark Liability Issues

Bill Marler featured in Wall Street Journal Law Blog again

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